Tag Archives: Pittsburgh

The Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail is officially completed tomorrow

Yurasko Bicycle LogoTomorrow, the 185 mile long Great Allegheny Passage bicycle trail celebrates its completion between Pittsburgh and Cumberland, Md. with events in Pittsburgh. Along with the C&O Canal Towpath, GAP provides a 335 mile continuous route between Washington, D.C. and Pittsburgh.

MORE FROM THE POST-GAZETTE

Ride, festivities planned on last leg of Great Allegheny Passage

“It took us six years to get the last 9 miles completed. Of the whole 150 miles, that was the hardest part”

“The Great Allegheny Passage in the making”

It took almost four decades to build what now is known as the Great Allegheny Passage. It is a remarkable 150-mile trail that connects with the 184.5-mile C&O Canal Towpath in Cumberland, Md., and makes possible a bicycling trip between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC. The GAP officially opens tomorrow — Saturday, June 15.

Building the GAP seemed like an insurmountable challenge when the project was conceived, from finding the right name for the trail to finding funding to reconstruct the Big Savage Tunnel, the longest tunnel on the trail. Linda McKenna Boxx, president of the Allegheny Trail Alliance, a coalition of rail-trail organizations that built and maintains the trail, told the PG’s Larry Walsh, “Getting the [$12.5 million] for the Big Savage Tunnel … was the absolute biggest challenge. It came close to not happening.”

But it did get done, thanks to audacious people such as Linda Boxx and Jack Paulik, who came out of retirement to direct construction through the Steel Valley.

I aspire to someday ride the length of it.

UPDATE JUNE 17, 2013
Two more stories:

Bicyclists celebrate reaching end of Great Allegheny Passage trail

Person of Interest: Linda McKenna Boxx of the Allegheny Trail Alliance

Biking Adventures of the Great Allegheny Passage
– A blog detailing the weeklong journey from Washington to the Pittsburgh along the C&O and GAP trails.

PREVIOUSLY

Great Allegheny Passage, Pittsburgh to D.C. bike trails, nearly finished

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Pittsburgh: Zipline proposed from Mt. Washington to North Shore

In today’s edition of “it’s a crazy idea, but it just might work” there is a proposal to build a $3 million zipline over the Ohio River in Pittsburgh. KDKA-TV has more details – Mt. Washington To North Shore Zip Line Proposal Awarded Grant

A proposed zip line that would sail from Mount Washington to the North Shore has been awarded a grant. It would cross the Ohio River at 50 miles-per-hour with a 400-foot drop.

A ride would take about a minute and cost $30. I wonder if there would be a commuter discount.

I have no idea if there is a business model for this but I’m intrigued, because if it works there, perhaps it could work elsewhere. I’m skeptical D.C. can get one (Rosslyn to Georgetown?) because of the National Park Service and well, tophography. Who knows, maybe one from the Jersey Palisades into Manhattan would work. Perhaps a re-purposing of the Roosevelt Island trams…

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Great Allegheny Passage, Pittsburgh to D.C. bike trails, nearly finished

Yurasko Bicycle LogoLast section of bicycle trail connecting Pittsburgh, Washington, D.C., set to openPost-Gazette
On my list of things I really want to someday is the approximately 335-mile bike ride from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C. via the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Tow Path. The Great Allegheny Passage is expected to be officially completed in June.

Mind the GAP & avoid getting in a rut

From the Allegheny Trail Alliance’s About the Trail page:

The trail has a packed crushed limestone surface for a smooth ride. Built mainly on abandoned rail beds, the trail is nearly level with the average grade of less than 1%. The steepest eastbound grade – 0.8% – is from Harnedsville to Markleton and Garrett to Deal. The steepest westbound grade is from Cumberland to Deal at 1.75%. Near the Big Savage Tunnel, the trail crosses the Eastern Continental Divide. From that point going east, the trail drops 1,754 feet in 24 miles to reach Cumberland and, going west, it drops 1,664 feet in 126 miles to reach Pittsburgh.

From Cumberland to Washington, DC, you drop 625 feet to sea level on the C&O Canal towpath. The towpath is overall much less improved than the GAP, as it was built for mules and not railroads. Be prepared for ruts, tree roots, mud and mosquitoes.

Hmmm, maybe I just psyched myself out. Still, it seems like a great adventure, perhaps one of the best challenges for an Eastern cyclist. BikeCandO.com has a Trip Planner if you are interested.

2012 story from The Post that I never got around to blogging: Biking the Great Allegheny Passage and C&O Canal from Pittsburgh to D.C.

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